November Highlight - Remembrance Day

November Highlight - Remembrance Day

Services of remembrance had been held at the University during the war, such as the ‘In Memoriam’ service held at King’s College Chapel on the 18th June 1916, and each year in the Aberdeen University Review a list was printed of the names of students, staff and alumni who were serving or had been killed at the front.

Following an appeal by King George V for the nation to mark the end of the war, on the 11th November 1919 across the city and shire services were held to commemorate the events of the First World War and all those who had lost their lives. At the University, staff and students assembled in the Mitchell Hall at Marischal College to listen to a short service by the Principal Sir George Adam Smith before observing a two minutes silence. A similar service, presided over by Professor Fulton (Professor of Systematic Theology, 1915-1928), was also held in the chapel at King’s.

A memorial service held in March 1919 at King’s College Chapel was described as follows in the Aberdeen University Review:

A memorial service for the graduates, students, alumni, and others connected with the University who have fallen in the war was held at King’s College Chapel on Sunday, 2 March. There was a very large congregation, the members of the Students’ Representative Council were present as a body, and the service was deeply impressive. The flag on the College tower was flying at half-mast, and the bell tolled a mournful note as the congregation was assembling. In the interior of the Chapel the pulpit and lectern were draped with purple. The service was conducted by Principal Sir George Adam Smith and Professor Fulton. The music was specially chosen for the occasion, and the singing was finely led by Miss Christie and the choir. Chopin’s ‘Marche Funebre’ was played as the congregation were taking their seats; and as the procession of Professors entered the Chapel, headed by Sacrist Robertson, carrying the mace draped in crape, the choir chanted Marbeck’s setting of the sentences for the burial of the dead…The Principal then preached, taking as his text Ecclesiasticus, xliv. 14 – “Their name liveth for evermore”. At the conclusion of the sermon, Sir Hubert Parry’s setting of Blake’s ‘Jerusalem’…was feelingly sung by the choir. Pipe-Corporal Robertson, Gordon Highlanders, then played “The Flowers o’ the Forest”, after which Buglers Greig and Miller, Gordon Highlanders, sounded “The Last Post”. As the congregation left the Chapel Miss Christie played as a voluntary “Land of Hope and Glory”.

Throughout the 1920s and 1930s the Armistice Day commemorations at King’s and Marischal followed the same pattern, with a brief service followed by two minutes silence, and The Last Post played by a bugler from the Gordon Highlanders barracks in Aberdeen. The Armistice Day events gradually evolved over time and the University came to remember the events of the First and Second World Wars as part of the annual Remembrance Day service. The Officers’ Training Corps involvement in the annual service began in the early 1950s, and took the form of a ceremonial parade at King’s alongside the University Air Squadron and University Company (Women’s Royal Army Corps). The ceremony remains largely unchanged to the present day and the next Remembrance Day, held on Sunday 9 November 2014, will be of particular significance, marking 100 years since the outbreak of the First World War.